Do You Ride With Phil?
Protection on a bike ride looks slightly different depending on the outing you’ve got planned. For a quick ride to the cafe, you may only need a quality helmet that fits well. For a longer road or gravel ride, we’d also suggest adding a pair of sunglasses to keep that errant cloud of gnats from obscuring your vision and a pair of gloves to help you maintain a strong grip on your handlebars even after you start dripping sweat. For mountain biking, a set of form-fitting knee and elbow pads can help you rip down the single-track with confidence, knowing a loose corner or unexpected root are less likely to result in a ride-ending injury.
Hydration is the next essential on our list. There’s almost nothing worse than feeling parched in the middle of a ride with no way to quench your thirst. Luckily, there are a lot of options for bringing something to drink on your ride. Keep things simple with a classic bottle cage and bottle for quick access. If you sweat a lot or want capacity to last you through a longer ride, consider a hydration pack. Available as either backpacks or hip packs, hydration packs will allow you to easily carry several liters of water, along with extra storage space for your nutrition.
We’re lumping nutrition in with hydration since it’s nearly as important as water. You’ve got lots of options here, too. From electrolyte drinks to gels to a PB&J you slapped together before heading out, bringing something along to replace those calories you burn during your ride are essential to ward off the sluggish, “why aren’t my legs working anymore” bonk.
3. Illumination and Inflation
Inflation and Illumination on a ride are key to getting you home safely. Flats often happen when we least expect it. Being prepared to swap out a flat tube, patch a tubeless tire, and pump air to the right inflation can make the difference between a fantastic ride or a long, miserable hike. At a minimum, we advise bringing along a spare tube, a pair of tire levers, and a pump. Luckily, portable pumps come in a range of sizes that tuck away conveniently in a pack or attach directly to your frame. Though portable pumps get the job done, we also advise getting a floor pump for use at home. Floor pumps get your tires up to pressure more quickly and with less work.
Illumination is also one of PHIL’s essentials. For road riding, a headlight and tail light are necessary to keep you visible to passing motorists. With daytime-visible options available, lights aren’t just for night rides. They’ll help you stand out amidst the dozens of other distractions drivers face on the road. Lights can also be just as essential for gravel and mountain bike rides if you find yourself heading out close to dawn or dusk (or setting out for an epic night ride). With headlight illumination, brighter is better. The more lumens you can throw ahead of you, the further down the road (or trail) you’ll see, helping you avoid obstacles and be seen by others.
4. Lubrication and a Lock
Last on PHIL’s list is Lubrication and a Lock. Like cars, bicycles require regular basic maintenance to keep them performing at their best. At a minimum, keeping a clean and lubricated chain can mean the difference between a drivetrain that glides beneath your feet and a grinding mess that leaches away your hard-earned sweat equity. Chain lubes come in dozens of varieties, but their goal is the same: clean and lubricate your chain so you can pedal efficiently and shift with ease. Chain lubes are inexpensive, and a single bottle can last years.Though last on our list, a Lock is one of the most valuable accessories to keep in your cycling arsenal. Even if you plan on staying with your bike for the entire duration of a ride, it’s important to have a quality lock on standby in case you need to dash into a convenience store for a restroom break or simply want a pause from pedaling. Available as cable locks, U-locks, chains, and cut-resistant bands, locks are available in a wide range of lengths, sizes, and weights. For most folks, we recommend a U-lock with a short cable. This combination ensures you can protect most of the easily taken items on your bike, including quick-release wheels. Trust us, thieves love nothing more than an expensive bike protected with a wimpy combo lock that a stiff breeze could open.
Before you set out on your next ride, keep PHIL in mind. He’s the one partner you never want to forget to invite along for the adventure. If you have questions about any of the essentials listed here, feel free to pop in to the Peak Sports Bike shop in Corvallis or Springfield. Our guides are happy to suggest options that will work best for whatever adventures you have planned. If you can’t drop by, feel free to call us at 541-754-6444 (Corvallis) or 541-933-0444 (Springfield). Wherever your adventures take you, we’re here to help you ride prepared.